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How can I prepare my child for her first sleepover?
Q: My 7-year-old daughter was invited to her first sleepover. What should I tell her about what to expect, how to be a gracious guest and using good manners? What should we do if she gets upset and wants to come home? Is it better to bring her home, or try reassuring her and getting her to stay?
A: What an exciting time! This will undoubtedly be the first of many sleepovers. By your choice of words—“gracious guest,” “good manners” —you are demonstrating to me that you know how to prepare your daughter. It is important for her to know that she has to be polite to her friend’s parents as well as cooperative with her friend. If she remembers to say “thank you” when given a meal or snack, and to tell both her friend and the friend’s parents when she leaves that she had a nice time, she has a higher likelihood of being invited back! When my daughter was younger, I remember some of her sleepover guests, when picked up by their parents, walking out the door without a word to either my daughter or me. I didn’t like it one bit.

Should your daughter cry and want to come home, I would remind her that she is as close to you as the telephone. In fact, I would encourage her to call you before finally getting quiet and going to sleep. If she is really upset, it would be a good idea to pick her up, for the benefit of the hostess and the other kids. Another possible problem occurs when one or two obstreperous children won’t go to sleep—and won’t let anyone else sleep, either. Caution her about that possibility and remind her that she can catch up on sleep at home the next day. Also, remind her not to be a sleep-disturber herself. A sleepover is a nice opportunity to learn how to get along with your peers and be considerate at the same time.